Parents choose Irish stepdancing lessons for their little ones for a variety of reasons: to immerse their children in Irish culture, for the structure and discipline that come with dance lessons, and to develop their children’s talent. Children and teens flock to Irish dancing schools because they enjoy the challenge of mastering new dances, honing their skills, and competing in dancing competitions. Plus, of course, it’s fun.
There are three regional styles of Irish dancing recognized by the An Coimisi_n na Rinci Gaelacha: the Munster style, the Connaught style, and the Ulster, or Northern style. Each has its own distinctive characteristics. In the Munster style, which is the most widely used and thus most familiar form, the dancer’s foot is positioned with the ball of the foot on the floor and the heel raised approximately two inches off the ground. If you watch the feet of dancers performing in the Munster style, you will notice that their feet are usually pointed outwards, and their heels rarely touch the floor.
In the Northern style, dancers will employ a constant heel-toe fluttering, or percussive movement with one foot while the other is executing a step. This move is reminiscent of clog dancing, a style that is also popular in the north. Another distinguishing feature of the Northern style is that, during a reel, pairs of dancers will face one another.
The Connaught, or Sean N